Productive Partnerships

Monash University

Preventing Weight Gain in Australian Women across Preconception, Pregnancy & Postpartum Life Stages

Obesity is a major public health burden that costs Australia over $8.6 billion per year. Managing obesity is a prime concern of the nation's health, however it is costly, intensive and often ineffective. Therefore, preventing weight gain is a priority as it requires only minor lifestyle adjustments, compared to obesity treatments.

While obesity affects a large percentage of Australians, young reproductive-age women are at a particularly high risk of rapid weight gain. However, due to lack of awareness, most of these women don’t believe they’re at risk. 50% of women are falling pregnant when overweight or obese, and 50 - 60% of women gain more weight during pregnancy than medically recommended. This can cause complications during pregnancy such as foetal malformations and miscarriage.

Simple lifestyle interventions can prevent weight gain and also encourage other positive changes to improve maternal and infant health such as eliminating smoking and alcohol consumption. In partnership with Medibank, Monash University aims to build on considerable world leading research, to adapt and implement lifestyle intervention to optimise healthy weight preconception and improve maternal and infant outcomes. This research and intervention will shed much needed light on a growing problem and ultimately contribute to forming healthier lifestyles for Australian women.